The Business are an English Oi! band formed in 1979 in Lewisham, South London. Their biggest hit song in recent times, "England 5 - Germany 1", (based on the result of a World Cup Qualifying match in 2001), became a football anthem for England.
The band was formed in 1979 by school friends Steven ('Steve') Kent (guitar), Michael Fitzsimons ('Micky Fitz') (vocals), Nicholas ('Nick') Cunningham (drums) and Martin Smith (bass). They played their first gig in front of friends in February 1980, and after taking on Lol Pryor as manager, began performing more often. The band's first release was the song "Out in the Cold" on the A Sudden Surge of Sound compilation album. They played their first Oi! concert in 1981, supporting The 4-Skins, and they became closely associated with the Oi! scene from then on. While the Oi! movement was wrongly labelled as far right and racist (despite the fact that several Oi! bands played at Rock Against Racism concerts), The Business took a stance against political extremism with their Oi Against Racism and Political Extremism ...But Still Against The System tour.
In November 1981, they released their debut single, "Harry May", which spent over three months in the UK Indie Chart, reaching No. 13. The initial line-up split up in late 1981, with Kent, Cunningham, and Smith forming Q-Bow, but Fitz carried on with Pryor, recruiting Graham Ball on guitar, Mark Brennan and Steve Whale from The Blackout, and John Fisher on drums. The new line-up made their live debut in January 1982, after which Ball and Fisher departed, leaving the band as a four-piece, with Kev Boyce of The Blackout on drums. The new line-up recorded the Smash the Discos EP, which was a No. 3 indie hit, and after a short tour, they recorded their debut album, which was to be called Loud, Proud, and Punk. The master tapes for the album went missing after disagreements between the band's label and the studio, forcing them to re-record the album, which was released as Suburban Rebels in May 1983. The album was remixed by their label, Secret, without them knowing, and Secret's financial difficulties limited promotion of the album. Frustrated by this, the band split up, with The Business members forming short-lived bands Chapter and Sabre Dance.
Pryor issued a retrospective album consisting of demos and live tracks on his Syndicate label, the success of which prompted the band to reform and record a what was to be marketed as a live album, Loud, Proud, and Punk. It was actually recorded in a studio, with crowd noise dubbed in later. Pryor renamed his record label Wonderful World and issued several Business albums in late 1985, with the Drinking and Driving tour following. The name of the tour caused controversy, with tabloid journalists accusing the band of condoning drunk-driving, although the title was tongue-in-cheek.
In late 1986, Brennan and Pryor founded Link Records, and with Brennan becoming increasingly busy running the label, the band split up again. In 1992, Fitz performed a few songs guesting with The Elite and he reformed the band to play a benefit concert for Bobby Moore, who had recently died of cancer. Brennan later started a new record label, Captain Oi! Records and did not join the reformed band. The band's line-up then became Micky Fitz (singer), Steve Whale (guitar), Lol Proctor (bass) and Micky Fairbairn (drums). The band released a new single "Anywhere But Here" and new album Keep The Faith in 1994. After a number of tours in Western Europe, the band played their first gigs in America in August 1994. In 1997 The Business released The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth (which was produced by Lars Frederiksen from Rancid). Despite various line up changes, the band's popularity continues to grow today with regular tours of America, West Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East.